Earlier this week, I took an overview look at one of the more difficult phases to the self-publishing process: marketing. As I said before, writing is the easy part. It doesn't matter how good your material is, no one will buy your book if they don't even know it exists. That's the real challenge of eBooks. To put it in perspective, your book is a single stand/blade of hay that's in the middle of a much larger bale, in a field lined up of hundreds of other bales of hay. Therefore, the goal should be to get to the top of your bale and worry about conquering the whole field once you get there.
Farm analogies aside, the idea here is to just get the word out. There are a ton of blogs and articles on the subject and a good number of them deal with SEO. This post focuses on simple, no-budget, marketing that will help new indie published writers accomplish two important things: (A) get the word out about their book(s); and (B) make good contacts with other indie writers and readers along the way. In order to accomplish A, let's start with B.
Long before you hit the "publish" button on whatever platform you are going to use to launch your eBook, you want to start marketing. Wait, you're thinking, I thought we were starting with B. We are, stay with me. Making contact with other indie writers and readers IS marketing. It's no different than going to a networking lunch, or taking the concepts of networking and using them more subtly. Subtle is the key, because effective networking should never feel like networking. More importantly, that's not what you're trying to do anyways. What you want is to develop a give and take relationship with this other person. Maybe you're looking for a beta reader and the other writer is looking for someone who knows a graphics designer who'll negotiate on prices for book covers. If you're able to help each other out, it's a win-win for you both. More importantly, this person will remember you weeks later when you're promoting your book. Here's where the networking pays off: now you've got someone willing to help you spread the word about your eBook.
Social media is the new word of mouth. That indie author you made a connection with might have several hundred followers on Twitter. In my case, indie author Seeley James, was kind enough to offer to tweet and re-tweet news about my free, three day promotion of "Of Murder and Monsters." Not only did this help get the word out, it also led to others picking up James' tweets and re-tweeting the information. This, combined with my efforts to get the news out via several + Google communities and websites advertising eBook giveaways, led to an amazing first day day of the promotion. The last two days of the free promotion posted respectable numbers, and has already helped generate more sales.
You'll want to make effective use of social media in order to get the word out about your book. This means either creating an author Facebook Page, blog, Twitter account, or your own website, or all four. Regardless of which format you go with, you want to make sure you are involved. It doesn't cost a thing to use these resources, yet they can help you rally friends and family to help tell others about your book. Again, it's about generating as much word of mouth discussion about your book, while at the same time reinforcing existing relationships and building new ones. Join a discussion group/community and participate. Help other authors in the group and you just may get some unexpected help that aids your marketing efforts. Just remember to pay it forward.